July 2020: New Historiographical Essay on Jesuit Travel

David Salomoni, a postdoctoral researcher at the Project RUTTER—Making the Earth Global, has published “Jesuits on Board: A Reasoned Bibliography on the Early Modern Jesuit Trans-Oceanic Sailing Experiences.” The essay appears as the third installment of the RUTTER: Technical Notes, an open-access serial publication covering topics as diverse as the research activities of the RUTTER research team. The essay, which Salomoni will update regularly, may be downloaded for free at: https://www.rutter-project.org/uploads/1/2/9/4/129482413/salomoni_tn3.pdf


Salomoni’s essay provides a historiographical overview and a bibliographical summary of Jesuit missions and travels, including the reports, histories, treaties, and travel accounts written by the members of the Society of Jesus between the 16th and 18th centuries. While particular attention is paid, in this “global history of the seas,” to the Jesuits’ scientific contributions, Salomoni addresses the missionaries experiences on the seas as well. “The aim of this continually updated bibliography, therefore, is to collect all the modern and ancient titles relating to the on-board oceanic travel experiences of Jesuit missionaries, but not to them only,” Salomoni writes. “Another ongoing attempt here is to collect the same kind of material on the oceanic travels of other religious missionary orders (Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians) to be compared with the Jesuits for a more detailed and comprehensive overview of such phenomenon. This bibliography will serve as a basis for articles, an edition of sources, and finally a book that will allow us to take stock of a decisive moment in the scientific, intellectual and social history not only of the Society of Jesus, but of the entire world. ”


The essay’s bibliography runs 23 pages and includes a section on selected literature on Jesuit missions and travels (including those for Jesuits at sea and in the missions as well as on their scientific work), a list of Jesuit reports, histories, treaties, and travel accounts, another list of travel accounts from other religious orders, one for non-religious travel accounts, and, finally, a list of relevant online resources.


Composed of an international and interdisciplinary team of researchers, the RUTTER Project has a mission to “write a narrative of the scaling up of a scientific description of the earth in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and how it grew out of the lived experience of travelling and observing the earth in long-distance sea voyages. It aims at radically improving our present knowledge of the historical processes that led to the formation of global concepts about the earth.” Henrique Leitão serves as the group’s principal investigator and Antonio Sánchez as the senior researcher. The RUTTER project receives funding through the European Research Council (ERC). Learn more about the project at https://www.rutter-project.org/.